|Button grass in December in Tasmania|
It was originally described as Chaetospora sphaerocephala by Scottish botanist Robert Brown in his 1810 work Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, before being given its current binomial name in 1858 by Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus is a perennial grass species which forms a clump or tussock. The leaf blades reach 50 cm (20 in) in length, and 0.1–0.25 cm in width. The round flowerheads arise out of the tussock, on culms which are up to a metre (3 ft) high. They are around 1.5–2 cm (0.6-0.8 in) in diameter and made up of flattened spikelets 0.5 cm (0.2 in) long. Its root system is a mass of fleshy carbohydrate-rich rhizomes, which are edible.
In New South Wales it is found from Gibraltar Range (and Myall Lakes on the coast) south to Robertson. It is much more abundant and widespread in Tasmania, where it is common in the western part of the state.
Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus grows in damp nutrient-poor soils, and in Tasmania forms a low grassland or moor in which it is the dominant shrub. Associated primitive plants include club mosses such as Lycopodium laterale, and Selaginella uliginosa and the ferns Gleichenia dicarpa and G. alpina. despite the wet climate, buttongrass is relatively flammable and the ecological community is adapted to regular burning. The leaves of Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus have the lowest recorded phosphorus content of any plant species. The soil it grows in is a peat which is acidic, with a pH of 3.5 to 4.5.
- New South Wales Flora Online: Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus by K. L. Wilson, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia.
- "Buttongrass Moorland - A unique habitat". Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmanian Government. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- "Chaetospora sphaerocephala R.Br.". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
- "Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus (R.Br.) Hook.f.". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
- Driessen, Michael (2006). "The Fauna of Buttongrass Moorland". Tasmanian Field Naturalist 128: 37–51. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- The Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team (2006). "Background and implementation information for the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Plan". Hobart: Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW), TAsmanian Government. Retrieved 21 June 2010.</
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